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74              A SEARCH IN SECRET EGYPT
breadth, a spreading out just as though I had a pair of wings, Had I not risen into the air and remained floating above my discarded body, even as a bird rises into the sky and remains circling around a point. Did I not have the sensation of being environed by a great void ? Yes, the bird symbol was a true one*
Yes; I had risen into space, disentangled my soul from its mortal skein, separated myself into two twin parts, left the world which I had known'so long. I experienced a sense of being etherealized, of intense lightness, in this duplicate body which I now inhabited. As I gazed down at the cold stone block upon which my body lay, a single idea obtained recognition in my mind, a single realization overwhelmed me. It expressed itself to me in a few brief, silent words:
"This is the state of death. Now I know that I am a soul, that I can exist apart jrom the body. I shall always believe that, for I have proved it"
This notion clutched hold of me with an iron grip, the while I was poised lightly above my empty fleshly tenement. I had proved survival in what I thought the most satisfactory wayŚ by actually dying and then surviving! I kept on looking at the recumbent relic which I had left behind. Somehow, it fascinated me. Was that discarded form the thing which, for so many years, I had considered as myself? I perceived then, with complete clarity, that it was nothing more than a mass of unintelligent, unconscious, fleshly matter. As I regarded those unseeing unresponsive eyes, the irony of the whole situation struck me forcibly. My earthly body had really imprisoned me, the real "me," but now I was free. I had been borne hither and thither upon this planet by an organism which I had long confused with my red central self.
The sense of gravity seemed to have gone, and I was literally floating on air, with that strange half-suspended, half-standing feeling.
Suddenly, by my side, appeared the old priest, grave and imperturbable. With upturned eyes, his face more ennobled still, with reverent mood, he prayed: "O Amen, O Amen, who art in Heaven, turn thy face upon the dead body of thy son, and make him well in the spirit-world. It is finished." And then he addressed me:
"Thou hast now learned the great lesson. Man, whose soul was bom out of the Undying, can never really die. Set down this truth in words known to men. Behold!"